July 17, 2017
In a world where over-the-top, hop-heavy beers are nothing out of the ordinary, it’s truly refreshing (forgive the pun) to come across a brewer who is adamant about staying true to style when it comes to traditional beers. Such is the case with Two Monks Brewing. I’ve had a growler-full of their German dunkel and was thoroughly satisfied—it was smooth, flavorful and malty—just what I was expecting.

On my first visit, the two owners were still prepping the tap room and getting their occupancy permits; tables, chairs and other equipment were stacked against the walls as they provided a growler-filling service to customers who stopped in.

On my most recent visit, they were fully open and ready to go, and there was a nice crowd checking out the beers on a Saturday afternoon. The wife and I stopped to get our Summit BrewPath passports stamped, so we sat down and looked at the beer list, which is not long, but features a nice assortment of styles—you should be able to find something you like here.

My wife, who generally prefers lighter fare, went with the Czech Pilsner, which she thoroughly enjoyed. I selected a pint of the E.S.B. and was totally won over—an excellent English bitter that was correctly hopped, full of flavor and extremely drinkable. On my next visit, it will definitely be my “go-to” beer.

Overall, Two Monks is a nice, comfortable spot to enjoy well-made beer; being just a stone's throw from Hoppin' Frog and the Brick Oven Brewpub, it's part of a nice East-Side Brewery Triangle that you must check out. I would only encourage the one owner to engage the customers a little more; when I asked him about their brewing system and complimented him on their beer, he seemed a little disinterested, and generally unenthusiastic about holding a conversation. Maybe he was just tired, but I've yet to meet a brewer who didn't enjoy talking about beer and bragging up his brews to anyone who will listen!

As an acknowledged “traditionalist” when it comes to beer, I can still appreciate some creativity and experimentation when those efforts are clearly identified as such. What does irritate me is when craft brewers offer a traditional beer style and then muck it up, either through inexperience, ignorance or a desire to make it “fit” today’s hop-heavy flavor profiles. Thus, we get an Austrian Pils that should be labelled an “American Pils”…or a German Oktoberfest that should be labelled “American Octoberfest.” That would constitute “fair warning”.

A perfect example is a recent 6-pack of Lager Heads Brewing Oktoberfest I bought. While they may have used German hops (this is what it claims on the label) they used too much of them to make it taste like a true German Oktoberfest; in fact, if I poured it in a glass and served it to most of my friends, they probably would guess it was an IPA. This is precisely why I am wary of buying a lot of “traditional-style” American craft beers—a lot of them have a problem with “truth in labelling”—though it’s due to bad brewing choices and lack of knowledge, not dishonesty.

Thankfully, it’s nice to know that places like Two Monks can still get it right. Hats (or hoods) off to them!


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